If only the sailing industry were hip and cool

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I recently received a magazine published by the Professional Association of Diving Instructors that is sent specifically to PADI dive shops for their dive shops’ eyes only. What a cool and hip magazine.

It was full of suggestions on how the dive shops can continue to attract the right demographic to their industry. Part of the color, glossy magazine was devoted to a convention they had hosted to grow their industry with guest speakers from major corporate trainers.

PADI is the world’s largest dive industry certifying and training company. They take an impressive high-tech and glossy approach to marketing the dive industry, and they do a great job. They devoted a lot of space in the magazine to teaching dive shops how to present their industry — how to attract the younger generations, to make diving hip and cool.

It’s difficult to project this scene on the sailing industry. Unfortunately, sailing is still just plainly seen as a stodgy thing that boring, rich old folks do.

But there are lots of things that we all can do to fire up this industry with a bit more excitement.

I’m talking about marketing to our buyers in the year 2009. Buyers who expect a quality and professional experience of products from first exposure to post-purchase customer service. Could the sailing industry ever become like a Mac store? A jazzy and hip place to hang out, view the latest cool stuff, take your kids for a learning experience and generally be wowed. You want a Mac so bad you can taste it.

Compare that to the sailing industry, which is loaded with uninspiring Web sites, boring boring boring videos on YouTube, blackboards and broken school furniture in sailing-school classrooms, dealerships with buildings in need of serious paint jobs, and boat shows that simply don’t pass the excitement litmus test.

PADI trains their schools to sell and push the dream of diving vacations. They feature young people in their ads, which they admit is actually targeted at the baby boomers. Boomers want to feel young, and so seeing fun shots of young people in the islands conjures up purchasing thoughts.

PADI also recently made the leap to offer their class material and certification test online. A move that increased the accessibility of their industry to the general public. Schools embraced the online training because the schools now had more people to teach the practical skills, more people to sell products to, and more to sell their vacations.

Like PADI, NauticEd.org has brought sail training online. We’ve invented some cool and hip interactive teaching tools to get more people excited about the sport. We’ve made those tools FREE for everyone to use to simply drive new people to the sport, and we’re pushing those people out to the sailing schools and charter companies. We’re bringing an excitement level to the sport demanded these days across all generations.

Recently, we began working with Bic to develop an online interactive kids sailing course. I must say that I was impressed with their marketing presence and ability to bring excitement. Their Web presence, YouTube video presence, color scheme and photo shoots are all top-notch quality. My wife and I felt like we were in the Mac store.

Can we all be a little more like Mac, PADI and Bic please.

Grant Headifen, president
NauticEd.org
“The World’s Most Advanced Online Sailing Education”

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